Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

27 Oct

Rather than demanding an old priest and a young priest, Death Bed settles for a middle-aged priest.

In my research for movie reviews, I generally check out the cast and crew listings on IMDB to see if the names seem familiar. I try to keep track of the credits when I see them, but sometimes I forget, so bless the Internet. For “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats,” an unusually high amount of names appear in no other listings, but this is by far not the most shocking information on IMDB. No, the most shocking information is the fact that out of 10 stars, IMDB users have bestowed five upon this film, and that, my friends, is five stars too many.

Should I even bother trying to explain the plot of this movie? Oh very well. A large, black four-poster bed is possessed by a demon who became trapped in the bed after attempting (unsuccessfully) to make love to a human. During the act, the woman dies, and the demon’s eyes bleed onto the bed, creating the monster. All this is narrated by The Artist, a ghost forever trapped behind his painting of the bed. In disjointed narrative, several people are shown being eaten by the bed: A hapless couple looking for a spot to canoodle, a priest, an old woman, a child, a man who had marketed the bed as a cure for impotence (although the bed holds off on him until he manages to organize a six-person orgy. Good thinking on the bed’s part.), the previously mentioned artist, and a pair of criminals are all given short, repetitive death vignettes. From these, we learn the bed has limited telepathic and psychokinetic powers as well as a very dark sense of humor.

Okay, okay, the skeleton hands sequences ARE comedy gold, but you still shouldn't see this movie.

Back in the present, Diane has been asked by a lawyer friend to examine the estate where the bed resides, and she has enlisted friends Suzan and Sharon to help. Sharon bears a passing resemblance to the bed’s “mother,” so, for a while, it keeps its malevolent impulses under wraps. That doesn’t last long, though, and the bed quickly makes a snack of sleepy Suzan as soon as Diane and Sharon leave to explore the property. Upon returning and finding their friend missing, the pair decide to split up; Diane remains behind in case Suzan turns up while Sharon drives back to town to seek help. But with the bed still hungry and its victims powerless against it, hope that its reign of terror will cease starts to dim.

It would seem director, writer and producer George Barry intended for this film to have a complete narrative, but the action is arranged in what would seem to be the most confusing way possible. Present action is intercut with flashbacks in pretty much random fashion, making The Artist’s incessant voice-overs actually necessary to keep track of what’s happening — not that much really does. When you boil the movie down to its core story, what you have is about 12 hours’ worth of present-day story time interspersed with at least eight repetitive and disappointing flashbacks.

Because let’s be honest here, the whole point of watching a movie called “Death Bed: The Bed That…” oh you get it by now. The whole point of “Death Bed” is watching a bed eat people. This conjures up all kinds of ridiculous set-ups about how or why people would be in or around beds, how the bed would go about eating them, what state of undress they’d be in. (This is a 70s B-movie after all. Nudity is de rigueur.) I appreciate budget concerns, but honestly, the eating sequences are about as disappointing as they can get. Pretty much zero gore, very little nudity and very few actual interesting reasons people are near or on the bed. It’s pretty much: “Oh hey, check out this bed, I guess I’ll sit on it ARRRRGH!”

This movie has been described by some as “esoteric,” which seems a kind way of saying it doesn’t make much sense at all. The bed’s creation is murky at best — a demon who was a tree but then was wind blew by a girl and fell in love and then he was human (sort of) but he killed her having sex and then his eyes bled and the bed was “born.” And I don’t think all, possibly any, of this is articulated, although it’s hard to tell. The Artist talks — a LOT — but much of what he says is vague poetical-sounding nonsense, so it’s entirely possible he describes all this in detail. Why Suzan’s brother shows up or how he knows where she went is a complete mystery, as is the film’s ending. I honestly couldn’t spoil it even if I wanted to because it’s so unexplained as to render it meaningless.

*dramatic music cue*

Speaking of The Artist and his never-ending dialogue, I’m not sure there is a word which adequately conveys exactly how bad the dialogue in this film is. You expect some bad acting in a B-movie, but seriously. What were these poor actors expected to do with their strings of run-on exposition? (All of which are delivered quite calmly via ADR, I might add.)  Several times lines are clearly heard although none of the characters is actually speaking. It’s especially excruciating during the scenes where someone is being eaten and reacting as if they’re being poked by their little brother while on a long car trip. Ow, oh, ow, ow, oh no and the like.

While the title alone seems to suggest this movie is of the so-bad-it’s-good variety, it’s more accurate to just stop after the first two words. Yes, the wooden acting is unintentionally funny, and the skeleton hands scenes are flat-out hilarious, but the truth is this flick has far too many stretches of goofy dream-like hooey to really allow for poking fun at the action. Even at a mere 80 minutes, watching this movie becomes something of an endurance test, and the final 30 minutes or so are especially painful. Couple all the film’s “esoteric” qualities with the fact that the actual eating itself is so anti-climactic, and, well, this movie becomes a total snore. Zero stars.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats“: Unrated. (Common sense rating: R, I guess, due to nudity.) Starring Demene Hall, William Russ (as Rusty Russ), Julie Ritter, Linda Bond, Patrick Spence-Thomas (who, as the Voice of the Artist, is billed higher than The Artist himself), Rosa Luxemburg, Dave Marsh (The Artist), Ed Oldani, Dessa Stone, Marshall Tate, Samir Eid, Fred Abdenour and Jock Brandis. Written and directed by George Barry.  Cinematography by Robert Fresco. Original music by Ossian Brown, Mike McCoy and Stephen Thrower.

One Response to “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)”


  1. 31 Nights of Horror: Final thoughts (2010) « Rhanda watches -

    […] Innocents” and “Eraserhead.” There was one zero-star review — “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.” There were three one-star reviews: “Bad Biology,” “Venus in Furs,” […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: